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The Horn Head Walk And Drive Guide (With Map)

The Horn Head Walk And Drive Guide (With Map)

The mighty Horn Head in Donegal can be explored as part of a scenic drive or via several walking trails.

Jutting out into the North Atlantic and providing exceptional views, Horn Head is home to sweeping panoramas, dramatic cliffs and even a WW2 lookout tower!

Part of the Donegal stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way, a visit to Horn Head comes with several safety warnings, particularly if you plan to tackling the walk.

Some quick need-to-knows about Horn Head in Donegal

A visit to Horn Head near Dunfanaghy isn’t as straightforward as some of the other nearby attractions, so take 30 seconds to read the points below, first.

1. Location

You’ll find Horn Head a short spin from the town of Dunfanaghy. It’s a 20-minute drive from Falcarragh, a 35-minute drive from both Gweedore and Downings.

2. Parking

There are two car parks at Horn Head:

  • The discovery point car park (here on Google Maps)
  • The lookout point car park (here on Google Maps).

3. Safety warning

The weather here can change very quickly and this is a very dangerous place to be when mist rolls in if you have no navigational experience. It’s for this reason that I wouldn’t recommend the Horn Head Walk to novice hikers.

About Horn Head

Horn Head

Photos via Shutterstock

Around 4km north of Dunfanaghy, the Horn Head peninsula resides on the western opening of Sheephaven Bay and its breath-taking quartzite cliffs rise up to a height of about 600 ft/180m on the ocean side.

Topped with bog and heather, Horn Head is also an Irish Natural Heritage Area and seabirds such as the European shag and razorbill can be seen whirling about above. 

On a clear day (which I absolutely cannot guarantee!), you’ll be treated to views of Tory Island, Inishbofin and Inishdooey to the west, the Rosguill Peninsula to the east and Malin Head to the northeast.

Things to do at Horn Head

There’s two main things to do here: the Horn Head Drive and the various walking trails, which we’ve outlined below.

If you’re planning on doing the Horn Head Walk, please do take note of the warnings!

1. The Horn Head Drive

The Horn Head Drive (or cycle, if you’ve got the stamina!) is a scenic drive along some very narrow roads that’ll treat you to stunning ocean and cliff views.

Now, you can start this wherever you like, just aim for this location on Google Maps to get on the right route. Keep on going until you reach the Wild Atlantic Way discovery point (there’s parking).

You’ll get a great view from here on a clear day. Keep on going and you’ll reach the Horn Head lookout point car park (here on Google Maps). You’ll need to hop out and follow the path for a couple of minutes.

You’ll then be treated to views of Horn Head and beyond (be careful where you step, stay away from the edge and never go wandering in bad weather).

2. The Horn Head Walk

So, as you can see from the map above, I haven’t outline the walking trail – that’s because there isn’t one. I’ve been here in summer and in winter and there’s never been a clear trail once you leave the lookout point.

However, once you visit on a clear day when conditions are good, you’ll see the WW2-era signal tower, which you need to carefully head towards.

It’ll take the guts of 30 – 40 minutes to reach it. Waterproof boots will come in very handy. When you arrive, you’ll be treated to breath-taking views of Horn Head and beyond.

WARNING: If you arrive at Horn Head on a day with poor weather OR if you haven’t navigational skills, PLEASE avoid this trail.

Places to visit near Horn Head

One of the beauties of the Horn Head Walk is that, when you’re finished, many of Donegal’s top attractions are a short spin away.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Horn Head (plus places to eat!).

1. Dunfanaghy for food (10-minute drive)


Photos via Shutterstock

If you fancy a post-walk feed, there’s plenty of great restaurants in Dunfanaghy nearby. My personal favourite is the Rusty Oven, but there’s lots to choose from.

2. Beaches galore (10-minute-plus drive)

Marble Hill

Photo left: Gareth Wray. Others courtesy Failte Ireland

There’s several excellent beaches very close to Horn Head. Tramore Beach has a nice walk to it, Killahoey Beach is popular among surfers and Marble Hill is a mighty spot for a stroll.

3. Parks and mountains (20-minute-plus drive)

Glenveagh National Park

Photos via Shutterstock

There’s endless walks within easy reach of Horn Head. Hike wise, you’ve Muckish and Errigal Mountain. There’s also Glenveagh National Park and Ards Forest Park.

FAQs about Horn Head near Dunfanaghy

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Where does the drive start?’ to ‘Where do you park?’.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

How long is the Horn Head Walk?

If you follow the Horn Head walking trail from the lookout point car park, expect it to take around 1 hour in total. Please do keep in mind that the ground can get very waterlogged.

How tall is Horn Head?

Horn Head’s breath-taking quartzite cliffs rise up to a height of about 600 ft/180m on the ocean side

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